ENUGU State Acting Governor, Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi, has challenged health professionals in the country, especially pediatricians, to intensify efforts to reduce the infant mortality rate in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
Declaring open the 44th Annual General and Scientific Conference of the Paediatric Association of Nigeria in Enugu yesterday, the governor, who was represented on the occasion by the state commissioner for Health, Dr. Fidelia Ugwu, lamented that a situation where UNICEF reported recently that Nigeria loses 2,300 under – five children and 145 women of childbearing age daily was no longer acceptable. The theme of the conference was “The challenges of improving child health indices in Nigeria.”
The acting governor stated that with this shocking statistics, Nigeria is ranked the second largest contributor to the under – five and maternal mortality rate in the world, adding that the death of newborn babies in Nigeria represents a quarter of the total number of deaths of under- five children globally. He disclosed that as part of efforts to reduce child and maternal death, Enugu State government had introduced free maternal and child health scheme, including the distribution of long-lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets to all households in the state, de-worming of children twice every year and intensified childhood immunisation coverage (80% coverage).
The president of Pediatric Association of Nigeria, Dr. Dorothy Esangbedo, announced that the association with the support of Latter Day Charities of USA, has trained more than 400 medical doctors and nurses in the past one year as part of its commitment to boost health care in the country and called on the federal government to include rotavirus vaccine in the national childhood immunisation schedule, as rotavirus infection is the leading cause of diarrhoea in infants.
The chairman of the local organising committee and former deputy vice chancellor, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, Prof. Bede Ibe, blamed government for the poor state of health facilities in the country, stressing that despite the availability of manpower, government had failed to equip hospitals and health centres to improve health care delivery.